October 7, 2005
There's a type of criticism of Harriet Miers I'm seeing that is really bugging me. These examples are from Virginia Postrel:
...Sure going to Harvard law probably gets you invited to some nice cocktail parties, but apparently being a part of the Texas good ole' boy and gal system gets you nominated to the Supreme Court...[link]
...Harriet Miers has spent her life in Dallas, and done extremely well in its connections-oriented legal culture--so well that one of her Dallas friends has now nominated her to the Supreme Court... [link]
Suppose I ran a big organization, and I played golf with Virginia Postrel every week. And out of the blue I gave her an important job. You would be justified in assuming this was cronyism.
BUT, if Virginia worked for me for ten years, held important jobs and was considered a top team member, and I then gave her a big promotion...it would NOT be reasonable (unless you had some specific evidence) to suggest that she only got the job out of friendship, or because she was in the "old-boys and gals network."
How do you run an top-notch organization? You find good people, give them responsibility, promote them, encourage them, etc. You favor them. And you don't promote others just because they had credentials, or seniority, or popularity.
Bush has been very successful, both as Governor and President. Just think back to the "accomplishments" of Clinton and Carter if you don't believe it. Or read the list here. (And, contrary to legend, his oil companies were successful--at least in finding oil. The problem was the oil-price collapse in the mid 80's.) And his ball team was successful. You don't do that by promoting the incompetent, or people who are just friends.
Actually, I think the Miers flap is just an excuse for a lot of conservatives to vent the frustration they feel with Bush. Fact is, he's a bit a of a revolutionary, and he's taking us in directions neither liberals nor conservatives expected to go.
I became a strong Bush supporter because I think that the conservatism I grew up with was at an impasse, and desperately needed a new path. (Liberalism, it is hardly necessary to add, is a failure, in fact a maggot-riven corpse, and needn't be considered by serious people.) To oversimplify, the problem is, government is NOT going to shrink, or become less active. America is very democratic, and we Americans think of government as being ours. Our shiny exciting toy that can do all kinds of neat stuff. No party that wants to put the toy back in the box is going to be in power long.
SO, what's the way out? How can we avoid an ever-increasing dependence on government which will destroy our souls as it has in Europe? Well, how about making the toy into an educational toy? That's what the Ownership Society is all about. Keeping the government programs, but giving people a stake, and responsibility for their stake. Making them owners of their Social Security or their health insurance...with decisions to make, and consequences, and less dependence on decisions by bureaucrats.
But one thing I'm discovering, with some dismay, is that many conservatives can't deal with the idea. Can't even really think about it, or critique it. If you try to discuss it, they just cover their ears and say MedicaireMedicaireMedicaireMedicaire...I've long since got used to the fact that liberals can't discuss new ideas, but it's a bit of a shock to see conservatives react that way.
Anyway, if you think I'm a reflexive Bush supporter, who will put up with anything Karl beams into my brain, you are not quite right. But the metric I'm watching is the Ownership Society (and the war of course). Not whether Janice Rogers Brown is nominated to the Supreme Court. (Though that would be a hoot.)Posted by John Weidner at October 7, 2005 9:47 PM